You guys see a very different side to me in comparison to what many people in my life see. My closest friends know that I am pretty…erm…odd, but my work colleagues and casual acquaintances see “professional Jane.”
Professional Jane likes pencil skirts and blazers. She eats rye crackers and discusses politics with men in suits. She analyses exam results and collates them in the form of pie charts. She attends meetings with colleagues and has an actual clipboard. Sometimes, she ties her hair up with a pencil. Yes, professional Jane is a straight-laced, no-nonsense nine to fiver.
Then there’s “crazy Jane”. Crazy Jane tries to teach her cat how to curtsy (she *almost* has it). She has an inexplicable fear of foam and waltzes with herself. She likes to not stalk her neighbours with binoculars and pretend she’s a French mime artist. She also loves wrestling and tequila (in that order). Sometimes, she likes to drive slowly beside random joggers she’s never met while playing Eye of the Tiger. She also likes to frequent karaoke bars where she can rap California Love in its entirety.
So yes, I’m weird. But I’m not always weird. I could come on here and be normal but then you guys wouldn’t be (hopefully) laughing at with me.
In case you guys are wondering, crazy Jane mostly lives in a cage while professional Jane is at work. I let her out in the evening, where she likes to dance to Abba and blog. Crazy Jane sure loves to blog. She also loves talking to all her fellow weirdos and sending them virtual cake. She is uncomfortable with referring to herself in the third person so she’s going to stop now and knit some tea cosies even though she doesn’t have a tea pot. Sinister.
Hi everyone, I know it’s been a minute since I’ve posted. Okay, several minutes but… *trails off incoherently*
As some of you may know, I am a history teacher so I thought it would be a great idea to combine my love of the subject with my wit and charm (stop smirking) and my lovely best friend to bring you a history podcast like no other.
I would be super grateful if you could do one or all of the following:
We tweeted it. We captioned it on Instagram. We posed, pouted and hashtagged. Be kind. An imperative we stylised and packaged until it became another lazy cliché. But did we live it? Of course not. Because that requires work.
If you cast even a cursory glance over major news sites and social media platforms, you won’t see too much of a problem. We complain, we ridicule, we speculate, we tag and we worship cats. We argue, yes, but at the very least, we see enough differences of opinion, enough people holding others accountable, enough good for the bad to be mitigated. It’s not perfect, but it’s okay.
The problems begin when you dig deeper. My daily internet consumption revolves around Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, news sites. Rinse and repeat. I rarely deviate from this cycle, except maybe to read a Wikipedia article about sea otters or the modality versus sodality parachurch dispute. I keep my content light and I keep my viewing light.
Maybe I’ve sheltered myself a little bit. I’m not naturally a confrontational person, although I do enjoy healthy debate. But I’m busy, and so my time online is spent glancing and skimming as opposed to engaging in anything particularly meaningful. The other day, as I skimmed my Twitter feed, I saw mention of a site called Tattle Life. I was bored, so I decided to have a look. And everything I thought I knew about social media changed.
I’m not naive enough to believe toxic online spaces don’t exist. I just avoid them. But when I imagined these spaces, I imagined them being filled with people who were obviously bigoted or aggressive, who wore their prejudices with pride; people you avoided at parties or in the supermarket because they exuded such virulent energy. But browsing that absolute cesspit of negativity and vitriol, I was struck by a number of things; mainly, how normal it all seemed.
For those of you who don’t know, Tattle Life is a forum, containing several different threads each discussing topics ranging from influencers and Instagram famous bloggers to current media trends and gossip. It’s like the meanest friend of Mumsnet. A thread I read on the famous Irish influencer Suzanne Jackson had hundreds of comments, pouring in only minutes apart. The comments were among the worst examples of cyber-bullying I’ve ever seen. And yes, I’m aware that sounds very SPHE teacher of me, but consider how much we hold up that the term “cyber-bully” to scrutiny. It is seen as one of the worst things you can do online. The women posting in these forums no doubt teach their kids to #BeKind and refrain from cyber bullying. And yet… the threads were relentlessly toxic pages of comments mocking this influencer’s appearance, coming up with various nicknames for her, her parents, sisters and friends, discussing her marriage, her entire life, all in the most violently spiteful manner.
And they think it’s okay. It’s acceptable. After all, influencers choose to live their lives in the open, right? They benefit from our interest and curiosity. They can’t cherry-pick what aspects of their lives we choose to discuss, can they? It’s hard to feel sorry for them when they are so content to blag freebies and show off their opulent lifestyles. Right? So it’s okay to call them names, to laugh at them, to delight when they fail, to eviscerate them in a public forum because they wore the wrong lipstick shade, or got tipsy at a public event, injected fillers into their imperfect faces or scratched their car or whatever minor transgression they committed this week. All of a sudden, two dozen comments in, the toxicity is okay. It’s allowed. Hell, it’s even funny. And we’re all doing it. Nitpicking every aspect of someone’s life and giggling conspiratorially while sipping our Chardonnay as our children sleep peacefully above us.
Step back. Step out of it. Does a thread with 267 comments tearing a woman to shreds need another comment? You have something funny to say about her knees.. is the validation from SweetiePie2011 really worth it? This is not real life but is real life. This is an echo-chamber of spiteful, toxic women who walk among us. And they probably chat with us at school-gates, they salute us in the supermarket, they like our Instagram posts only to snipe derisively at us in WhatsApp groups with their friends. This is what we have become. A society of people who will litter our Instagram feeds with posts about love and kindness and all that zen shit but will hide behind anonymous accounts to slate anyone we deem worthy of it. It unsettled me that in the sheer avalanche of negativity and derision, there was not one person, not one person, who aimed to mitigate the nastiness. It was all so normalised.
Be Kind shouldn’t be a fad. It shouldn’t be a sound bite, a hashtag, a cute post or a bandwagon. It should be an action that permeates every single interaction we have. It is more than retweets and hitting buttons. It is something to give, to do. And even if you can’t be kind, you can try not being unkind. That shouldn’t be a challenge.
My legs tucked under me as I drew red lines on the essays of fifteen year old girls and nodded, knowingly, at angst and sadness that was theirs and mine
I was distracted by angry German shouting, shrapnel spitting through the air, bodies pierced and punctured by 100 year old bullets from rifles I was starting to recognise: Lee-Enfield, Carcano, Springfield
Willing you, now and then, to look at me
To see me
But you were a sniper picking off enemies from a distance. Such a distance.
And you wouldn’t die for me.
‘Did you see that?’
Yes, I saw that. I saw it all.
Someone else is playing your game.
Someone else is going over the top,
Recklessly pitching grenades at enemy troops
Maybe he is the same vulnerable, dispensable soldier
Traversing no man’s land
Negotiating the unpredictable terrain of the unknown
But he prefers the Madsen
And when he paused yesterday, briefly, to move a piece of hair away from my eye with gentle, precise fingers
Hello my lovelies, remember me? Okay, probably not…but I brought biscuits, which I will now eat all by myself.
So… where do I even start? I guess my life changed so much, and in all of the chaos, I lost myself a little bit. My engagement fell apart (I’ve only mentioned it a thousand times) and I got a new job so I just felt a little overwhelmed.
It’s been two years since my relationship broke up. I have zero contact with my ex, which is probably for the best. I suffered a long of PTSD, where the months and months of gaslighting and lies kind of caught up to me and I realised I could never be friends with someone who abused me so much. It’s not like he even really cared when I cut contact. In fact, I think now it’s what he wanted all along. It’s just sad that he’s a stranger to me now but c’est la vie.
Dating was amazing in the beginning. I met so many interesting men and had some wonderful experiences. Some of them are still my friends. But it got repetitive. I found I was never really fully on the same page as most guys. It was either ‘I’m not looking for anything at all’ or ‘I want a wife and kids’. I am very much the ‘I’m not exactly looking but I’ll see how it goes’ type. I don’t rule anything out because you just don’t know, do you?
I’m seeing someone now, but I am taking it in absolute baby steps and not labelling it or even discussing it. It’s a totally non-traditional thing, because I guess the ‘normal’ way didn’t really work out for me and I have all kinds of trust and commitment issues. Luckily, I’ve met a guy who is very patient, very kind and very, very hot. I’m going to brag about that because I can. And so much fun. He makes me stupidly happy and even if it’s not the most traditional of relationships, it really really works for us. Last night, I slept completely wrapped up in him and feeling safer and happier than I have in years.
And my job… well, my job is amazing! I’m still teaching and loving it. I still live where I live with my beautiful pets. I’ve tried so many new experiences over the last two years and have really begun to understand who I actually am outside of a relationship. I genuinely have never felt so happy and fulfilled. But I want to get back to blogging. It made me genuinely very zen and I enjoyed it so much so we’ll see. I guess my commitment issues extend to this now too 🙈
So, whoever you are, I want to hear about you. Come talk to me while I finish these chocolate chip cookies.
I’ll be the grand old age of thirty two in a few weeks. Thirty two seems absolutely ancient to me, considering I had always assumed I’d be at least married with three kids, multiple generations of golden retrievers and living in a house I could ill-afford but it has a veranda and it’s mine so who gives a crap?! Well…that didn’t happen. My relationship status could be described as more complicated than quantum mechanics explained through hieroglyphics, I have zero golden (or otherwise) retrievers and the only thing I own is a pair of Nikes that I’ve already scuffed because I can’t take care of pretty things (or houseplants, FYI). I don’t save money, I just had a jar of Nutella for my supper and there’s a spider living in my shower that has taken control of my bathroom to the point that I ask his permission before I pee (his name is Sebastian and he appreciates common courtesy). Basically, I’m an overgrown woman-child who probably shouldn’t be allowed to use adult scissors without supervision. In my defense, those mother effers are SHARP.
I always assumed that I would reach a certain age in my early twenties and BAM I’d level up and know how to adult. My day would consist of a seamless routine of healthy eating, classical music, being evangelical about the deliciousness of avocados, drinking half a glass of Malbec, picking up children (presumably, my own) from activities like décolletage and ballet, and cooking a tasty yet nutritious meal (see: avocados) for my appreciative family who would then serenade me with a nighttime song before bed (my hypothetical children are indeed the Von Trapps). Instead, any semblance of routine is nonexistent. I have a job, which I adore and…well, that’s it. There are no Disney children, no spinning classes, no lunchtime tipple with Sandra whom I rotate the school run with. I get up, throw on whatever clothes I’ve decided to wash, lament the rotten avocado in my dustbin, go to work (I do adore my job), come home, work some more and basically collapse. Sometimes I’ll exercise, binge watch Queer Eye and maybe make a sandwich. I’ll WhatsApp audio my friends with the fascinating details of my day ‘my favourite stapler broke…but stand down, I fixed it.’ When it comes to anything approaching adulterific (see: Oxford English Dictionary, probably), like bills or errands, I get it done but in the most chaotic and least seamless way possible. Don’t get me wrong, I have no debt, I have no major stresses or issues when it comes to my personal or financial life, but that’s not to say it isn’t difficult. I have a pile of clothes in the corner of my room that basically looks like some kind of textile Everest. I have a press of expired cans of beans that I assumed I would need in case of some kind of zombie apocalypse. My heating has been broken since Obama was in office. There is zero organization in any part of my home. I realise I’m not alone here, but I also realise there are countless people my own age who are just more…adult. They have savings, they have health insurance, they have orthodontists for crying out loud! Do you ever look at some people your age who just seem so together and think how the hell do they do it?
For me, adulthood is the realisation that you’re entirely responsible for yourself. There’s no one else who’s going to pay those bills, or get that boiler fixed. Sure, you might have a supportive partner or even parents who are always willing to lend a hand, but when push comes to shove, it’s all you boo. And it’s tough. I mean, I know that’s all part of growing up. And it’s exciting in its own frightening way. And I’m far too old now to be complaining about what are really my own responsibilities, and simple enough ones at that. It’s just…I often wonder… will I ever have this adult thing down to a fine art?
The answer is probably NO. I think, like most people, I’ll always struggle a little. When I was a child, I viewed adults as absolutely infallible. They were, in my gullible eyes, were beyond fault. I know now what I didn’t know then: that I make mistakes every day. That I’m still scared, that I’m still foolish (at times 👀) and that I’m still learning and growing. And I think that’s a lifelong thing. There is no moment in life when everything finally comes together and you’re presented with some grand prize for finally having your sh*t together. I’m maturing everyday (though do not point out a Great Tit bird to me without expecting a bashful giggle). Most importantly of all, I’m happy. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and really, isn’t that what matters most of all? Well, that and cats wearing top hats. So maybe I’ll never be a boss at adulting, but doesn’t the world need people like me who can’t figure out what a tracker mortgage is? DOESN’T IT?!
So tell me, can you adult good? And if so, maybe share some tips while I try and stay inside the lines while I colour.
WELL HELLLOOOOO THERE! I’m shouting because I’m so excited! It’s been so long… actually, it’s been so long I’m sure most of you have forgotten me and need reminding of who I actually am. Here’s a few prompts to get your head muscles tingling:
Cats, tequila, bad dancing, puns…
Remember me now?! No? Okay, that’s fine. Expect your dead squirrel in the mail in five to six working days. Lol, I kid. (It’ll be a live squirrel and he’ll do tricks for you.)
So…I don’t even know where to start. I guess I should start with a logical rundown on my life since I last posted since I know you all care so much. *tumbleweed… wolf howl… cricket*
-I love my job very much and feel very privileged to work in such an amazing school. I’m so happy there.
-I can’t really post about my love life but it’s all good. DM me hun 😘
-One of my dogs sadly passed away. Miss you everyday, Molly.
-I got an SUV and honestly, I’m too small for it but who cares. I feel like Cher in Clueless.
-I have to move house which has made me all kinds of antsy but illbefineomgihopeso
-My friends are amazing. That’s not really news, per se, but I just felt it needed to be said. They’re my big yellow umbrella.
Wow, I actually don’t really know what else to say. I’ve been so consumed with work, there hasn’t been time for much else, except the occasional glass of Malbec and gyration to Queen. Life is funny like that; sometimes you just live it. Months have flown by, I’ve been living alone (to an extent) and it’s been great. Other than a few minor stresses, I’ve been good. Some would say zen (except for when I get stuck behind slow moving traffic and then the sewer mouth is just unstoppable).
So, come say hi to me! I miss you all. I’m officially the world’s worst blogger but at least I’m excelling at mediocrity, right? You’re welcome, mom. 💕
Tell me what’s been going on in your world while I embroider like the lady of a medieval castle twerk to Kendrick Lamar.